Colour Removing & Tie Dye

by MadeByBarb
2 Materials
2 Hours

It's dreary winter here. I NEED colour! Also give me design to make my heart sing! Can you believe this was a black T-shirt?! Alright my friends; I’ll share my secret to Colour removing & Tie Dye.

The Secret Ingredient

Did you know there is a product available in the laundry isle, a powder that helps ‘whiten’ clothes. White Brite is not a bleach or oxy. It only has three ingredients: sodium metabisulfite, sodium hydrosulfite, and sodium carbonate. The sodium hyrdosulfite is the same ingredient found in commercial colour removers like the Rit brand. Thiox, another colour remover has Thiourea Dioxide – a replacement for Sodium Hydrosulfite and can also be used. I liked the fact that I can get it locally and quite inexpensive.

As with any kind of chemical reaction there may be vapours that are released so working under well ventilated conditions is key. I put it under the fan-hood to suck out all the vapours, or work outdoors.

The Fabric Fibres:

Fibre reactive dye does not take to synthetic fibres and this will not work on anything that is not a natural fibre (cotton, rayon, viscose, bamboo, silk, wool). It is also best that it is 100% of the fibre mix. The dye used nowadays in clothes is much stronger (so our clothes do not ‘grey out’) than in the past, so complete colour removal is not always possible. It is also not guaranteed to get a white. Sometimes the colour leaves but the expected result is not relating to the original colour.

I am using black t-shirts and black rayon scarves. My prior attempt with regular bleach did work in some instances but completely ate holes through the rayon. Lesson learned…

Tieing it Up!

The fabric is dampened and for better results a good cleaning without fabric softener is ideal to remove any grime (if not new) or sizing from the factory.

To see some more in depth details please visit here on how to get great Tie dyed patterns.

Since my purpose is to keep a fair amount of the original black, I tie it really well and then the portion to keep black is tied tightly in a plastic bag to prevent any accidental spots of the colour removing (see the right right side). Use your favourite method of tying remembering it is a negative version though. Make sure the sinew is pulled especially tight so it will keep tight through this long process. My usual is a ‘geode’ type of tying as it is pretty irregular.

Use a heat-safe vessel and sprinkle the White Brite liberally on top. This powder reacts to the heat of the water so get some boiling water ready. Slowly pour small amounts of the boiling water onto the fabric.

You will see it bubble and immediately start to change colour. It will work in small sections and as I observe, the concentrated areas of the powder and heat work quicker. For that reason I do not think immersion of the fabric would work as well.

To finish off any remaining areas I popped the vessel into my Microwave (for dyeing) and heated it some more. It will get to the point of complete (as complete as the colour will come out) and even colour removal.

Keep Tied or Not

Depending on your desired outcome you can keep it tied or untie and proceed. The Rayon scarf was untied to see the pattern that was left. The T-shirt was left tied and then rinsed. Make sure to rinse really really well. (another reason the tying needs to be good & sound)

Once it is well rinsed you can go onto your method choice of dyeing. In my case it’s Fibre Reactive Dye

The rayon scarf was soaked in sodas ash & retied. ‘Just some quick squirt application of dyes. My go-to combination has been ‘Razzle-Dazzle, ‘Raven’ and ‘Navy’ lately. They work great together and since the colour families are similar I do not get any mud colours.

Tip; the fuscia colours do need extra rinsing! After rinsing in cool water soak in very hot water with some ‘Dawn’ dish soap to keep the excess dye from attaching back to the fabric.

Since I quickened up the process of dyeing by using my microwave to heat it this was done in a flash. I love the fact that the rayon is quite thin so tying will give very sharp lines. Also Rayon is super soft and drapes so nicely! Be careful though as it is more delicate when wet.

Check out the awesome colours and unique shapes!

I much prefer a more random design to traditional tie-dye patterns. This looks more like a modern art painting than a ‘groovy’ shirt!

Since rayon and viscose are man-made fibres they are usually quite inexpensive, but it can quite resemble silk when wearing.

T-Shirt Love!

The T-shirt was left tied throughout the whole method. It was also soaked in soda ash solution after a good rinse and then dyed with a strong ‘Razzle-Dazzle’ fibre reactive dye. As you see I did use a bit of a ‘fan-fold’ and a diagonal line of design.

I’m thrilled as the rest of the shirt is a nice pure black. That’s the reasoning for colour removing & Tie dye, otherwise dyeing a whole white shirt makes more sense.

The ‘Razzle-Dazzle’ does always throw (colour splits) a teal colour and that made it even better. I love it and also that it is assymmetrical. I do not attempt symmetry as if it goes wrong it looks wrong… so why try?!

It’s about time that the warm weather arrives and I can wear this! I hope you will join in the fun of colour removing & tie dye!

But do not stop there... I have many ways to Dye and make beautiful fabric designs:


Eco Printing

Suggested materials:
  • Cotton T-shirt   (store)
  • Rayon Scarf   (

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Want more details about this and other fashion and style ideas? Check out more here!
Join the conversation
3 of 14 comments
  • Lenore Sisk Lenore Sisk on May 02, 2022

    This looks like so much fun I definitely want to give it a shot no matter what it turns out like, lol I do wonder though are you able today soak white scarf?

  • Lenore Sisk Lenore Sisk on May 02, 2022

    This looks like so much fun I definitely want to give it a shot no matter what it turns out like, lol I do wonder though are you able today soak white scarf?

    • MadeByBarb MadeByBarb on May 02, 2022

      If the Scarf is white it does not need to stripped of colour first before dyeing. Fibre reactive dye will need the fabric to be soaked in soda ash solution prior to dyeing.